Few things are ever certain at Real Madrid when it comes to squad selection - many a manager has had a player sold from under their nose by an over-reaching club president, just ask Manuel Pellegrini about Wesley Sneijder - but if José Mourinho has his way then Alvaro Morata will be one of The Special One’s special four strikers next season.
The 18-year-old who currently leads the scoring charts for the club’s second team, Castilla, is racing along on a remarkably rapid career trajectory that sees Morata whizzing through the youth ranks at the club he joined in 2008 having had spells as a talented wee nipper at Atlético Madrid and Getafe.
Indeed, the young forward is currently spearheading a promotion campaign for Castilla that could well see his team playing in Spain’s second tier next season. But, if José Mourinho is true to his word, Morata will be focussing instead on trying to get playing minutes by elbowing aside Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín.
But this is going to be no easy task for the Madridileño who faces a similar path that other fine strikers such as Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado - now at Sevilla and Valencia respectively - have trodden, but eventually tumbled off.
Being on the Real Madrid roster is one thing, getting game time is another. As many a Madrid fan will grumble, the club has little patience or sympathy with ‘cantera’ products who do not make an immediate impact in the team - an attitude that is not shared at Barcelona, for example.
The big advantage for Morata is that the forward has all the attributes that Mourinho loves in front men - height, strength and technique - and this is the reason why he was taken on the club’s pre-season tour of the US.
At over six feet tall and already sturdily built despite his age, Morata is a footballer who can play with his back to goal but possesses the pace and finish to be an old-fashioned poacher too. Although some comparisons made suggest that the forward is similar to Fernando Morientes, Morata is more of an all rounder like another Spanish Fernando - Torres.
Morata is already a regular - and a regular scorer - for Spain at various youth levels and has made his Primera debut for Real Madrid, coming on as substitute against Zaragoza in December. “I wouldn’t sell this shirt for €20 million,” beamed the youngster at the end of the game. He would if he has one or two more in his locker.
To make that happen, his current Castilla boss, Alberto Toril, says that the forward needs to become more regular in front of goal. Morata will also need to develop the self confidence required to hold his ground in a star-studded dressing room where home-grown talent holds no sway.
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